HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — The three-judge panel that found Voting Rights Act problems with the Alabama congressional map is expected to select a new map soon as a replacement.
The panel indicated during a hearing Tuesday that an order would be issued shortly.
The parties in the case are the State of Alabama and a group of plaintiffs who challenged the maps drawn in 2021 and in 2023 by the Alabama Legislature. The plaintiffs successfully argued to the panel that Alabama needs a second congressional district where Black voters have the opportunity to elect the candidate of their choice.
The court found that based on 2021 U.S. Census figures, the Black population in Alabama is large enough and geographically compact enough that Black voters should get more consideration in Alabama’s U.S. House map.
The three-judge panel ordered the legislature to draw a map that contains a second congressional district that includes a Black majority voting age population, or near-majority, but the legislature failed to do so. The State of Alabama argues that would constitute racial gerrymandering.
The three-judge panel disagreed with Alabama’s claim and directed a special master to draw three alternative maps with the court responsible for selecting one. Alabama asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block that order, but the court refused.
The court is poised to select one of the three maps that primarily change the state’s U.S. House District 2. The plaintiffs in the case have argued they prefer Map 1 or 3, and the State of Alabama said it does not favor any of the maps but dislikes Map 1 the most.
An election analysis by the special master found the Black voter preferred candidate would have lost the 2022 race in the Map 2 district, but he also said he found Democratic voter turnout was very low in 2022. The special master told the court if traditional voter turnout patterns held, all three proposed maps would create an opportunity district for candidates preferred by Black voters.
The special master’s report says in the proposed District 2 the Black voting age population is: Map 1 — 50.1%: Map 2 — 48.5%; Map 3 — 48.7%.
The three-judge panel has said it is aware the Alabama Secretary of State needs the new map as soon as possible, to ensure voters are listed in the correct districts for the March 5 primary.